an initiative of ACCORD


Oral hygiene – WHY?

Teeth and gums play a vital role in at least two very important activities – eating and talking!

Teeth bite and chew food so that it can be swallowed, and they also help with word formation. Gums cover the bones of the jaw and help hold teeth tightly in place. Gingivitis is the early stage of gum diesease where gums become infected and inflamed. Periodontitis is later stage gum disease and can result in loss of teeth.

Food, which can get stuck in your teeth after eating, contributes to the formation of plaque. Plaque is a sticky, colourless layer of bacteria, mucus and food that sticks to tooth surfaces. Plaque, if not removed, can harden to form tartar which can only be removed by the dentist.

Bacteria produce acid which can cause cavities, and volatile sulphur-containing substances that can cause bad breath. Bad breath can also arise from diseases in teeth, gums and the mouth.

Oral hygiene – HOW?

Regular brushing and flossing dislodge food caught in your teeth and help remove plaque. Choose a quality toothpaste, toothbrush and dental floss and use the technique recommended by your dentist. Remember to rinse after brushing or flossing.

Toothpaste contains mild abrasive particles that gently remove plaque and food residue from teeth. Most toothpastes contain fluorides that protect tooth enamel. Fluoride has had a large impact on reducing tooth decay since the 1960s and 70s. Some toothpastes also contain anti-bacterial agents to reduce plaque formation or bacteriostatic ingredients to stop the growth of plaque.

Many varieties of toothpaste are available: different flavours; with whitening, antibacterial and breath-freshening agents; to prevent plaque; anti-cavity; for sensitive teeth; for kids; for smokers; and with mouthwash.

Toothbrushes also come in many different forms, such as manual, electric, kids’, hard, medium and soft, different sized heads, with built-in gum massaging-bristles, and with built-in tongue-cleaner. It is important to choose the right sized toothbrush with a suitable texture and hardness: ‘soft’ if your gums are sensitive.

Dental floss helps remove food and plaque from between the teeth and under the gumline. Floss comes in nylon or plastic, unflavoured or flavoured, waxed or unwaxed varieties.

Regular oral care and visits to the dentist will help fight cavities, gum disease and bad breath.

Use of mouthwash can also assist you maintain good oral hygiene. Mouthwashes come in different flavours and can be breath-freshening only, or also include fluoride and active ingredients to reduce dental plaque, tooth sensitivity or gum disease. Antibiotic and anaesthetic mouthwashes are also available by prescription.

If you have children, model and encourage good oral hygiene practices. Even though children lose their first set of teeth, good oral hygiene habits can be formed early in life. Also, discourage children from swallowing toothpaste. Excess fluoride intake can lead to fluorosis - white mottling and flecking on teeth. For infants, gently wipe their gums after each meal using a damp washcloth. Don’t let your child fall asleep with a bottle in their mouth.

useful stuff...

The human body may be home to 10 times as many bacteria as human cells. Researchers believe the human body has over 500 bacterial species living in and on it.7 Trouble getting a date? 75% of women in a New York survey said they would only date a guy who showered daily.8   20-30% of handbags have faecal bacteria on the underside.22 In 2006, women spent an average of 54 minutes and men 43 minutes per day on personal hygiene.9
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